7.6 earthquake damages buildings in Indonesia, felt in Australia

More than 1,000 people in northern Australia, including in the city of Darwin, reported to Geoscience Australia that they felt the quake

January 10, 2023 08:02 am | Updated 08:02 am IST - JAKARTA, Indonesia

This handout picture taken and released on January 10, 2023, by BNPB (National Disaster Management Agency) shows a damaged house after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit deep under the ocean off Indonesia and East Timor, in the Tanimbar islands in Maluku.

This handout picture taken and released on January 10, 2023, by BNPB (National Disaster Management Agency) shows a damaged house after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit deep under the ocean off Indonesia and East Timor, in the Tanimbar islands in Maluku. | Photo Credit: AFP

A powerful deep-sea earthquake damaged village buildings in a lightly populated island chain in eastern Indonesia early Tuesday, and its substantial shaking was widely felt in northern Australia.

Two school buildings and 15 houses were damaged in the Tanimbar islands, with one of the homes heavily damaged and three moderately damaged. Only one injured resident was reported.

“Local residents felt strong tremors for three to five seconds. There was panic when the quake shook so the residents left their houses,” Abdul Muhari, spokesperson of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said in a statement, citing the local agency.

The epicentre of the magnitude 7.6 temblor was in the Banda Sea, nearest the Tanimbar islands in Maluku province which have about 1,27,000 residents, according to 2021 data. Tremors were felt in several regions, including Papua and East Nusa Tenggara provinces, as well as in northern Australia.

Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency issued a tsunami warning that was lifted three hours later.

“Based on four tide gauge observations around the centre of the earthquake, it did not show any significant anomaly or change in sea level,” agency head Dwikorita Karnawati said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake's epicentre was at a depth of 105 kilometres (65 miles) not far from Australia's northern tip. Deeper quakes tend to cause less surface damage than shallow shaking but are more widely felt.

More than 1,000 people in northern Australia, including in the city of Darwin, reported to Geoscience Australia that they felt the quake. The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre said the quake didn't pose a tsunami threat to the mainland or any islands or territories.

Australian singer Vassy wrote on Twitter it was the longest quake she had felt.

“We ran out of the house in the middle of the night I’ve never experienced earthquake that lasted that long and felt so strong. It was rather scary,” Vassy wrote. “Woke us up in the middle of the night.”

Indonesia is frequently shaken by earthquakes and lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

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